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A QualitEvolution is intended to capture positions and experiences as a participant in the evolution of the Quality profession into the 21st century. From its origins as the brainchild of Corporate Industrial Statisticians, our profession has transformed and evolved to incorporate and adapt to the demands and expectations of our modern existence.

The scope of the subject matter within A QualitEvolution extends to the furthest ranges of quality, business transformation, management science, and quality issues especially pertinent to the members of ASQ in Canada.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

QUALITY: Faith, Hope, and The Right Stuff - That's The Truth

This is my definition of Quality:

Pursuit of optimal solutions contributing to confirmed successes fulfilling accountabilities. 


Any attempt to define Quality as proposed in View From The Q will lead to controversy, simply because Quality is essentially a state of being, like Poverty or Prosperity.  This cannot be defined in and of itself, but only in relation to common references.  When reviewing the definition of Poverty, I came across qualifiers like Absolute or Relative.  A similar categorization could be applied to Quality.

I will first clarify what Quality is not.  Quality is not Perfection, even the illustrious American Society for Quality operates as an organization with its particular challenges.  Pursuit of Perfection is something more achievable because it references the continual growth and enhancement of our capabilities.

Quality is not Antagonistic Criticism.  Although some have made a healthy and lucrative career by diagnosing and publishing flaws and shortcomings, this in and of itself is not Quality.  If it were, our Quality Guru pantheon would include authors like Ralph Nader (who never designed a car himself) or Roger Ebert (the movie critic whose screenwriting credits include some extremely tasteless and vulgar Russ Meyer movies).

 From a starting point, I take inspiration from Scripture, namely Wisdom Literature.  I do this to establish Quality as a virtuous state of being, as something to which we should all aspire.

In substituting a word initially translated from Agape (intermittently translated as both Charity and Love) with Quality, one can capture the ideals of Quality as expressed in the (lucky) 13th chapter of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians.

4 QUALITY is patient, QUALITY is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 QUALITY does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres....13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and QUALITY. But the greatest of these is QUALITY.

From another viewpoint, Quality can be interpreted as an expression of complete confidence and readiness to complete the mission.  This attitude is expressed in the bravado statement, "Light This Candle", uttered by the first American to travel in space, Alan Shepard.  This statement was Alan Shepard's expression to launch the rocket which would engage the mission and propel him from the safety of the launch pad.

So from the origins of idealistic morality, to the confidence coming from the scrutiny of designs and tests, there is still a missing element - Accountability.  At some point we will be faced with having to explain and defend our actions and decisions.

So from these three seemingly disparate sources of inspiration, I can craft a definition of Quality that can be generically applied and propagated.

Quality is
- The virtue of idealistic pursuit of an optimal solution based on conviction, knowledge, experience, and intellectual determination
- Preparing organizations, materials, and team members for successful engagement and deployment in order to complete their mission
- With accountability against defined criteria of success and failure, and subjective expectations of fulfillment or disappointment

Compressed into a definition that is 10 words or fewer:

Quality: Pursuit of optimal solutions contributing to confirmed successes fulfilling accountabilities.

1 comment:

  1. Daniel
    Many thanks for contacting. When I look at your definition and at mine [see: http://www.medicallaboratoryquality.com/2013/01/defining-quality.html ] I can see the commonality. Your talks about "accountabilities" and mine about commitment; yours about successes and mine about expectations.

    I think the core difference lies in the weight that we put on the value of objective measure versus subjective appreciation. Left Brain - Right Brain.

    Looking forward to more QualitEvolution.